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Living a Creative Space, Inside and Out

Christina Keibler Fiber and Body Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico

My studio space overlooking the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is first and foremost a working space, but also a relaxing one.

I’m one of those people that experiences personal development as punctuated equilibrium: I process a flurry of life developments that seem to come at once, ponder them for awhile, make changes in my path, then sit with those changes in life-stasis until the next flurry appears. The movement is always forward, usually humbling, and sometimes scary. But I always benefit from life’s challenges, and learn from them, and every day brings me closer to the core of who I am and the life that makes me happiest.

The past six months has been a period of intense punctuation. It was a perfect storm of meetings, circumstances, disappointments, reflections, and realizations. The culmination included selling my house in Colorado (it sold in four days, full price, cash), and finding a wonderful home in Santa Fe, New Mexico much more quickly than I anticipated. I’ve been in my new home for only four months, but my life has been richer and happier and more at-ease than at any other time in my life. And the core of this change has been the external expression of my internal creative self.

The physical manifestation is that, for the first time in my life, I have a studio. And that studio is in New Mexico, a place that resonates with my deepest self. This is a space where the emotional, artistic, and creative parts of myself, long hidden, can come out and live! I am the first to say that I am very, very fortunate in this and not a day goes by that I am not both grateful and thankful to be here and for my developing life, both on the cusp of wonderful things. Circumstance and fearless choice have put my life on a solid path towards horzo, the Navajo concept of being at harmony and in-tune. It is when we live our true selves in harmony with what is around us that we experience horzo.

When I am in my studio, creating a piece of fiber art or writing as I am now, I feel horzo within me. I can see the mountains, hear the birds, and see the flickering sunlight through the dancing leaves of the trees that hover around my studio windows. At night I can hear the coyotes singing, and see the stars in the dark evening sky. On very dark nights, I can see the Milky Way, and it is truly a magical thing. At midday as I work or take an afternoon walk, I am amazed at the clouds as they form over the mountains, pushing up pillows of white, blue, purple, and yellow. Every evening I watch the sun set while perched on my westward-facing window seat. Nature is my main inspiration, and I am most at peace when I am within her, or creating reflections of her.

Amidst all of this beauty, how could I not make the most of the studio space that I have? The studio is 10 feet by 18 feet, and within this space I have a large loom, a station for photographs, storage for my fiber, a desk, shelving, and a folding table for projects. In this space I weave textiles, felt wearable art, make homemade soaps from sustainable ingredients, and develop paintings using a combination of beeswax, resin, and fiber. In the winter time I will share this space with many plants that are currently housed outside, and we will be crowded together, and the plants will provide inspiration of their own when snow flies.

In truth, many times I am overcome with emotion at how very lucky I am to have this space in which to create and give voice to the colors inside me and around me, and I find myself rushing to make up for what feels like lost time. Then I make myself a cup of tea, sit with my dog, and remind myself that it is important to sit quietly, and listen, and feel. It is during these times of quietness that balance comes and with it a new flush of inspiration.

 

Christina Keibler Fiber and Body Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico

A waterlily pond I used to gaze at as a child in south Florida inspired this piece.

 

Christina Keibler Fiber and Body Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Nature is my main inspiration, including the deciduous woodlands that inspired this piece.

 

Christina Keibler Fiber and Body Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The colors of the soil, sun, and rock of New Mexico provide endless beauty in many forms.

 

Christina Keibler Fiber and Body Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico

This piece came to me after remembering a trip to Key West, Florida as a child. The tropics, woodlands, southwest, grasslands, and more all provide beauty and have voices that demand being heard.

 

Christina Keibler Fiber and Body Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Sometimes individual people are inspiration. This piece was custom-ordered and created for a special person after months of researching her; it captures her spirit perfectly.

 

Christina Keibler Fiber and Body Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico

This piece was created for a museum in Edinburgh to increase breast cancer awareness; it reflects the internal battle of cancer within the body, and the healthy cells’ work to protect and heal.

 

 

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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Hobbies and Arts

 

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Sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns: A Spring Delight

Sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns by www.ruralspin.comSpring gifts us with many culinary delights after a long winter. Spring vegetables herald a freshness of body and spirit that is unparalleled, and this is one of the best parts about spring! Whether you grow them yourself or buy from a local farmer, seasonal spring vegetables are to be savored. And let’s not forget foraging for fleeting spring delights, either. One of my favorite wild edibles is the fiddlehead fern. While it is fleeting, it is delicious.

Fiddleheads are quick to cook and have unparalleled flavor; they taste like a cross between asparagus and spinach, except better than both. There are many recipes using fiddleheads, from tossing with pasta to serving with sauces. But because of the delicate taste of the green, I prefer a very simple preparation method: just a parboil and quick sauté, then add a bit of salt, pepper, and fresh squeezed lemon. It’s Spring on a fork!

COLLECTING

Fiddleheads are the unfurled fronds of fern plants; they do indeed look like the scroll ends of fiddles. If they were left to grow, the fronds would uncurl and flourish as the dainty fern fronds you may have seen walking in forests in spring. But only certain varieties of fiddleheads are edible, and some are thought to be carcinogenic if consumed in high doses. Luckily, many varieties are safe to eat, and different varieties can be found all over the world.

Some of the most common and widely distributed species of ferns that are sources for edible fiddleheads include ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), and royal fern (Osmunda regalis). These are the most common and are not considered carcinogenic (bracken fern, Pteridium aquiline, is carcinogenic).

Ostrich fern, however, is considered the edible gold standard for fiddleheads and is the species most widely sought! There are a few indicators that will help you identify ostrich ferns, including a deep “U”-shaped groove on the inside of the stems, and the presence of brown papery scales covering the new growth, which fall off as growth progresses. (To learn how to properly identify ostrich ferns and avoid bracken ferns, check out this publication from the University of Maine).

Ostrich ferns can be found growing in clusters alongside rivers, creeks, and streams in spring. Harvest the fiddleheads when they are between about two and four inches tall and only harvest from plants that have more than four fiddleheads present (less than four indicates a young plant or one that might not survive harvesting). And when harvesting, only take half of the fronds from each plant; this will help keep the population strong year after year. To harvest cut or snap the fronds off at the base near the ground; do not pull the plant up by its roots.

But be respectful; make sure you have the landowners permission to harvest from their land and don’t collect from nature preserves or protected areas. And whenever you are collecting wild edibles keep your “take” to only what you need and never collect all that you see. I like to leave at least 50% (depending upon the plant, sometimes much more); you want to make sure you leave a healthy balance with the environment so you can collect more next year and leave enough for animals to graze on, too. Life is about balance, and we don’t want to take more than our humble share. Caring for the land brings its own rewards.

You can store fiddlehead ferns in the refrigerator (in a container with a tight fitting lid) for a day or two after harvesting. Ideally you want to prepare them right away.

BUYING

If you’re lucky, you can find fiddleheads at a local food co-op, farmers market, or farm stand if you don’t have a way to collect your own (fiddleheads are not cultivated). That is, in fact, what I did for my fiddlehead fix. I purchased them from my local food co-op,  La Montañita Co-op in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I am a member.

When purchasing fiddleheads, choose tightly coiled fronds with a good green color. Avoid fronds that that have soft, brown spots. If the dark brown papery covering is still present that’s fine; removing it when the frond is dry is much easier by simply rubbing it off.

 

Sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns by www.ruralspin.com

The delicate flavor of these bright greens is an unparalleled spring delight.

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PREPARATION

The first step is to always wash your fiddleheads thoroughly to prevent foodborne illness. To wash, place your fiddleheads in a bowl of 50% vinegar water and leave them sit for several minutes. This also gives time for any dirt that is stuck in the coils to fall loose to the bottom of the bowl. Because of this, don’t pour the fiddleheads out of the bowl. Instead, use your hands to remove the fiddleheads from the bowl and rinse in fresh water before cooking.

I prefer a simple preparation to highlight the fiddleheads’ delicate taste (they should not be consumed raw). Here’s my recipe for delicious fiddleheads! I serve them as part of a simple meal alongside grilled fish or chicken, or just warm bread fresh from the oven. This allows you to really savor a flavor of Spring.

Ingredients and How-to

  • Fiddleheads (cleaned, washed, rinsed, and trimmed of any brown ends)
  • Water (about two to three times as much water in volume as your fiddleheads)
  • 1 to 2 tbsp butter or a mild-tasting vegetable oil (olive oil can cover up the delicate flavor of the fiddleheads)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Lemon slices

Place water and a dash of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. When the water is at full boil, place your fiddleheads in to parboil. Let them boil for about two minutes then test to see if they are crisp-tender. If they still seem too tough, leave them for 30 seconds more. But remember that you will be sautéing them, too, so don’t overcook.

After the fiddleheads have reached the crisp-tender stage, lift them out of the water and set them on a clean towel to drain a bit.

Heat your butter or other lightly flavored vegetable oil in a good sauté pan (I use my trusty cast-iron skillet). Toss in your drained fiddleheads and sauté over medium heat for about two minutes a side, or until they are lightly browned.

Place your fiddleheads on a plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper and squeeze a few slices of lemon over the fiddleheads. Serve. And enjoy!

 

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Moisturizing Whipped Aloe Vera Butter

Moisturizing Whipped Aloe Vera Butter --  www.ruralspin.comDry skin: it’s itchy and can look aged and scaly, be it winter in northern climes or year-round in dry areas. But dry skin is about more than just comfort or looks. Your skin is an organ — the largest in the human body, in fact. It prevents you from getting dehydrated and helps maintain your body temperature. The outer layer of your skin, the epidermis, is the first line of defense against microbes that can cause infections. The epidermis also helps your body produce Vitamin D and important proteins, such as keratin, and the melanin protects against sun’s harmful rays. With such vital roles, it’s important to keep your skin as healthy as possible. Of course an added bonus is that properly moisturized skin looks great, but the health benefits come first!

Keeping your skin properly hydrated and nourished are important for maintaining health. Eating a diet rich in whole foods and organic fruits and vegetables while drinking plenty of pure water is essential, and applying a nourishing body butter can help protect your skin when weather conditions get challenging, and as skin matures. This whipped aloe vera butter that you can make yourself will not only keep your skin from drying out, it can also help maintain its health.

INGREDIENTS

The ingredients for this body butter are not as common as, say, straight-up olive oil or coconut oil, but they have been chosen specifically to improve skin health, provide moisture to skin, and maintain a whipped consistency without feeling greasy. The benefits of my chosen ingredients include:

Shea butter: The Vitamin A in shea butter has been shown to improve a number of skin conditions, including skin allergies, itching, blemishes, wrinkles, dermatitis, insect bites, and sunburn. And the natural moisturizers in shea butter are identical to those found in your skin’s own sebaceous glands.

Vitamin E oil: Vitamin E occurs in eight forms; make sure you are buying a brand that contains tocopherol, which is the only form to meet human requirements, and avoid brans that contain soy. Because of its heavy nature, only small amounts of Vitamin E are needed to achieve benefits, which include protecting the skin against damage from pollution and the sun’s harmful rays, providing anti-inflammatory benefits, and hydrating your skin. Vitamin E oil is also a great antioxidant.

Jojoba oil: You might worry that this body butter will feel greasy with all these oils going into it, but jojoba oil is one that helps regulate the the amount of sebum that your own skin makes, which makes for a less greasy feel overall. Jojoba is also a well known emollient that soothes skin, and it has been shown to dissolve the sebum that can clog pores and cause acne. Unclogged, healthy pores are better able to maintain skin health.

Vegetable glycerin: As a humectant, glycerin actually draws moisture into the epidermis of the skin and helps to seal it in at the cellular level. Glycerin is also an emollient, making skin soft and supple to the touch. Vegetable glycerin has been shown to help heal skin damaged from conditions such as psoriasis and can combat the signs of aging. 

Aloe vera gel: The gel from this plant has been used since Egyptian times to heal flaky and dry skin, sunburns, acne, eczema, and more. The plethora of antioxidants, including beta carotene and Vitamin C, help maintain skin’s health and natural hydration. The healing properties of aloe vera have also been shown to help heal stretch marks. 

Rice powder: The addition of rice powder helps maintain a whipped texture to your body butter, but it has other benefits as well. 16th century Geishas used it as a beauty product to give a porcelain finish to their skin. Ancient Indonesians used rice powder to help protect their skin from the sun. In modern times we know that the structure of rice powder is similar to that of ceramide, a natural component in our cell walls that also happens to be one of the main components of the skin’s epidermis. Ceramide helps prevent water loss and increases collagen production, which makes skin more supple.

The rice powder is available at many grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I use), and the other ingredients can be purchased from a store that sells organic foods and health products. But you might also find them at your local grocer. You can also use fresh aloe vera gel from your own plant, like I do!

HOW-TO

Once you collect the ingredients, making the whipped body butter is easy! In a mixing bowl add:

  • 4 ounces shea butter
  • 1/2 ounce Vitamin E oil
  • 1.5 ounces jojoba oil
  • 1 ounce vegetable glycerin
  • 2 teaspoons aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon rice powder

Whip everything well with an electric mixer until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated and fluffy in texture. Place your body butter in a container with a lid (a mason jar works fine) and store out of direct sunlight. Apply the body butter right after you shower, or any time your skin needs some help maintaining moisture.

You can also add about 20 drops of your favorite essential oil to customize a scent, or to provide more therapeutic benefits.

Moisturizing Whipped Aloe Vera Butter --  www.ruralspin.com

 

 

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Goodbye, Ginger One Eye

Goodbye Ginger One Eye, by Rural SpinIt is with great sadness that I must announce the death of my beloved blind hen, Ginger One Eye. She had a ton of fans around the world, and to me she was a wonderful bird and tolerant friend. Ginger taught me life lessons, such as being true to myself, adapting to challenges, and producing gifts of the heart for others even during times of dark and cold. It’s been a week since she died, and writing this now still makes me get all choked up. I know many of you will feel her death, too. (If you are new to Rural Spin, please read more about Ginger One Eye here and here.)

I loved that bird, and at the same time I respected her for what she was: a chicken. A very special chicken, but a chicken nonetheless. I accepted her for exactly what she was, and loved her for that. She didn’t need to be anything more. I didn’t get affection from her, and I know she didn’t really appreciate it when I succumbed to the desire to run my hands over her lovely feathers. But my feelings for her were true and always will be; my natural tendencies of loyalty and affection are hardwired and bone-deep for people and animals alike. I did often wonder what went through her head when she saw me. I like to think she appreciated that I gave her a special pile of cracked corn in the same spot every day so she could scratch-n-peck in relative protected peace. I did my best to allow her to have as normal a chicken life as possible, even though she couldn’t see much at all.

Ginger One Eye was keenly focused on taking care of herself, including being hyperaware of her surroundings so she could overcome her blindness. And she took great pride in her purpose: laying eggs. She took her egg laying more seriously than the other hens, in my opinion. She even laid all winter; because she couldn’t see very well her laying wasn’t dictated by day length. She loved the nesting box, sought out the crushed egg shells and oyster shell I provided for hen health, and figured out how to get her full share of feed, foraged insects, and fresh water. She at times even became so broody trying to hatch eggs that I had to set her up in a special pen to get her to chill out a bit. But to her laying eggs was a means to an end: she wanted to become a mother, even without a willing rooster around. And boy can I relate to that.

My last visit with Ginger One Eye was when I gave her to a friend before I moved to New Mexico. It was there that she and some other hens got attacked by the fox that would ultimately be the cause of Ginger’s death. But Ginger One Eye was the chicken that survived that fox attack and managed to lay one last egg before succumbing to her injuries. Because that’s the kind of hen Ginger One Eye was: optimistic and feisty.

While part of me wishes I had been with Ginger in her last moments, it’s probably best that I remember her the way she was the last time I saw her. When I dropped her off to live with my friends at The Lyons Farmette before I moved, she emerged from the carrier into her new flock with bravery and curiosity. And when she heard her first rooster crow, her neck stretched out and her ears perked up listening to that sound. At that point she likely thought to herself, “Ah ha! That’s what I’ve been missing! Those baby chicks won’t be far behind now!” I imagine she laid her eggs with renewed vigor, and was a happier hen in a flock with a proper rooster.

 

Rural Spin

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Animals, Homesteading

 

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DIY Clarified Butter (Ghee)

Making clarified butter www.ruralspin.comRecent studies show that butter is not quite the food demon it has been made out to be in the past few decades. In fact, going back to pure, whole full-fat food may actually prevent obesity instead of causing it. But as with most tasty things, moderation is key. These studies don’t provide free license to load up on butter, cream, and whole milk, but they do indicate that choosing them over the fake food “fat free” alternatives is healthier.

Making clarified butter www.ruralspin.com

Use the highest quality organic butter you can.

Clarified butter is butter that has had the milk solids and water removed until all you are left with is pure butterfat. While the word “butterfat” doesn’t sound all that healthy, there are a few advantages to clarifying your butter:

  • The process of clarifying the butter removes most of the lactose and casein that is contained in butter, which makes it great for those who are lactose intolerant.
  • If you are a follower of Ayurveda, ghee (a class of clarified butter) is considered a health food. It lubricates connective tissues and promotes flexibility, according to the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • The phenolic antioxidants in clarified butter help bolster the immune system.
  • Clarifying butter increases its smoke point to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This means you can use it at much higher temperatures without the butter burning, which is great when cooking things like omelets, fried potatoes, and fish.
  • Because the milk solids have been removed, your clarified butter has a much longer shelf life than regular butter. It can be stored in the refrigerator without spoiling for six months or so.

HOW-TO

Making clarified butter www.ruralspin.com

Skim the whey proteins off the top.

The butter you use for clarifying should be unsalted; salted butter has been linked to unpredictable results when clarifying butter, but I have made clarified butter using both unsalted and salted butter and have had no problems. You definitely want to purchase the best organic butter you can, however. The cheaper the butter, the more water and chemicals are present, which can negatively affect making your clarified butter, and will decrease the quality.

It’s easy to make your own clarified butter:

  • Take a pound of butter and place it in a deep saucepan over very low heat or a double boiler.
  • Let your butter melt slowly so it doesn’t burn, and until a scum forms on the top (these are whey proteins). Skim this off with a skimmer or a spoon.
  • Continue simmering your butter for about 10 minutes until no more white scum forms at the top.
  • After you remove the scum from the top, you will see that the milk solids fall to the bottom. The clear yellow clarified butter will float on top.
  • Strain your butter through cheese cloth or a fine sieve to separate the clarified butter from the whey proteins.
  • Store your clarified butter in a glass jar or crock.
Making clarified butter www.ruralspin.com

Remove the milky solids at the bottom by straining through cheese cloth.

You can save the milk solids and whey proteins to flavor dishes such as biscuits or sauces. And please note that one disadvantage of clarifying butter is that it loses some of its buttery flavor along with its milk solids, so while it’s wonderful for adding flavor in high-heat cooking, a slice of bread fresh from the oven is best accentuated with regular butter.

Ghee is a form of clarified butter, but they are not the same. To make traditional ghee, you must let your butter simmer along with the milk solids until the milk solids caramelize, then they are removed. This caramelization lends a nutty taste to your ghee.

 

 

 

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35 Heirloom Seed Suppliers

Heirloom and GMO-free seed sources: www.ruralspin.com

It’s that time of year again! When we spread our seed catalogs out on the table, grab a cup of tea, and drool. What will we plant this year? Will we choose a tried-and-true tomato variety or go for something completely new? Will we set aside space for something different, like an heirloom amaranth, or a carrot from the 1800s? But even if we just have a few patio planters, dreaming about all of the gardening possibilities is a fun activity!

I typically choose heirloom plants for my seeds. I prefer the historical variety that heirlooms provide, and now that I am a new resident of New Mexico, I will be gravitating towards heirlooms that have traditionally been grown in the southwest, or which have drought-tolerant tendencies.

There is some confusion about the difference between heirloom and open-pollinated plants. Open pollinated refers to plants that reproduce successfully by natural means like insect, wind, or bird pollination. Heirloom plants (also called heritage plants) are ones with a long history, which have been passed down through generations within a family or a culture. All heirloom plants are open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated plants are heirlooms. Being a history buff, I enjoy the heirlooms for their history as much as their tastiness.

Nowadays, heirloom and open-pollinated plants are seen as a foil to GMO (genetically modified) seeds, which are under scrutiny. Many countries have banned GMO plants for a variety of reasons. This can be a complicated and detailed topic, so a good source to learn more about why GMO seeds should be avoided can be found here.

But where do you find heirloom seeds? There are a variety of sources worldwide, and below is a sampling of good sources for heirloom seeds for your garden. If you find that I am missing a favorite source for open-pollinated and heirlooms seeds, please do add it in comments!

Some of these suppliers carry both heirloom and hybridized seeds, but will identify which are the heirloom varieties (search “heirloom” in each website if you’re having trouble identifying the heirlooms they offer). Some, but not all, of these suppliers also offer organic seeds; they will also specify which are organic and which are not. Also be aware that some of these do not ship to all countries.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: www.rareseeds.com

BBB Seed: www.bbbseed.com

Bountiful Gardens: www.bountifulgardens.org

Botanical Interests: www.botanicalinterests.com

Burpeewww.burpee.com

D. Landreth Seed Company: www.landrethseeds.com

Fedco Seeds: www.fedcoseeds.com

Heirloom Seeds: www.heirloomseeds.com

Heirloom Tomatoes: www.heirloomtomatoes.net

Heritage Seed Conservancy: www.growseed.org

Heritage Harvest Seed: www.heritageharvestseed.com

High Mowing Organic Seedswww.highmowingseeds.com

Johnny’s Selected Seeds: www.johnnyseeds.com

Kitazawa Seed Company: www.kitazawaseed.com

Kusa Seed Society: www.ancientcerealgrains.org

Living Seed Company: www.livingseedcompany.com

Native Seeds/SEARCH: www.nativeseeds.org

Nichols Garden Nurserywww.nicholsgardennursery.com

Peaceful Valleywww.groworganic.com

Pinetree Garden Seeds: www.superseeds.com

Real Seed Cataloguewww.realseeds.co.uk 

Renee’s Garden Seedswww.reneesgarden.com

Salt Spring Seedswww.saltspringseeds.com

Seeds of Change: www.seedsofchange.com

Seed Savers Exchange: www.seedsavers.org

Solana Seeds: solanaseeds.netfirms.com

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: www.southernexposure.com

Sustainable Seed Company: www.sustainableseedco.com

Terra Edibleswww.terraedibles.ca

Territorial Seed: www.territorialseed.com

The Cook’s Gardenwww.cooksgarden.com

The Cottage Gardenerwww.cottagegardener.com

Turtle Tree Seed: www.turtletreeseed.org

Veseys: www.veseys.com

Victory Seeds: www.victoryseeds.com

Rural Spin

 
 

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The Sanity of Slow Words

Slow Words for improved communication by Rural SpinThe Slow Food movement, founded in 1986, seeks to reconnect us to real enjoyment and respect as it relates to the food we eat. Instead of gobbling up fast food that is low on taste and health, sit down to meals using local, nourishing foods cooked in a thoughtful manner. Slow Food is, in fact, retro eating in a modern world. (To learn more about Slow Food, check out their website.) In this spirit, I’d like to see us focus on what is healthy and thoughtful in our personal communications, too. In response, I’m calling for a Slow Words movement, to reconnect us with a retro and arguably more civilized communication style for our modern lives.

I don’t know about you, but I feel saturated with the accusatory diatribe that seems to permeate not only the internet but also our interpersonal relationships. People seem bent on suspicion and accusation instead of true listening, understanding, empathy, and compromise. It’s as if our societal whole lost sight of behaviors that make life bearable: kindness, civility, and personal accountability. We’ve lost the ability to think first and ponder, then speak, and instead just blurt out whatever quick emotions trick us into at a given instant. But as in many things in life, thrown stones are difficult to retrieve, and accusations once made cannot be taken back (but if you’re lucky, the falsely accused can forgive). Slow Words cautions us to hold on to that stone and keep those words in check until we are sure we want to speak them, and until we are willing to see that those accusations say more about us than the accused.

As part of a Slow Words movement, let’s feel and speak with open hearts and an empathetic and forgiving view of others. Instead of allowing our own fears and suspicions to rule whatever flies out of our mouths or off our fingertips, let’s take a cue from Emily Post — American authority on etiquette who died in 1960 — who once said, “Manner is personality: the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.” Treating others decently and with empathy and understanding (or the opposite) is a reflection on you much more than it is a reflection on the other person.

When it comes down to it, the true liars, cheats, morons and deceivers are not as common as the accusations of many seem to indicate. Mostly, we are all just people making the best choices we can given the knowledge we have at that time, and few of those choices are made with ill intent. So how can we judge someone we’ve never even seen, or have only known for a few months? Do we really think we can know who that person is, what motivates them, or what their challenges are in that short a time? Most can’t, especially if they are blinded by their own pasts and prejudices. The person called a liar and a cheat probably isn’t, the faceless forum or Facebook member called a moron probably isn’t, that, either.

Slow Words seeks to break this cycle. And it is quite simple, really. All we have to do is to stop accusing, and start listening with positive intent instead of suspicion. Think before speaking, and allow that pause to insert some sense into the conversation. Make sure your communication reflects what you really want and who you really are and if it doesn’t, then maybe keeping your mouth closed and keyboard inactive for awhile is the better choice.

I realize I am an incurable optimist and have way too much empathy and positive belief in others for my own good, but I believe if we Slow our Words down that we will all be happier, and our relationships with strangers and those close to us much improved. Slow Words can change the world. Once we start using Slow Words, real understanding, true and lasting connection, and resolution can take place.

Rural Spin

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Historic Reflections

 

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